29 June 2016

How TV Can Lead To Education

So we dropped the kid off at camp the other day. And every time I tell someone where she is and what she's doing, I find myself explaining that it all has to do with the Gilmore Girls.

Back in the fall, the girl and I embarked on some mother/daughter TV watching: we set out to watch the entirety of the Gilmore Girls - all 153 episodes. This is not a show that I had ever watched, but enough smart women that I like told me I'd like it, and that she would too. If you have no idea what it is, it's a TV series which ran from 2000 to 2007, about a girl (Rory) and her single mother (Lorelai) who is only 16 years older than she is. Frankly, it's kind of adorable. And Rory is a pretty good role model for a tween, because Rory is a good girl who loves books and is educationally aspirational: at the beginning, she is dead set on going to Harvard.

A couple of weeks into what turned into a seven month marathon of kicking Daddy off the couch so we could watch another episode (or two), the girl came downstairs and told me "Mama, I want to go to summer school at Wellesley. I searched it up and I found this program. I really want to go there; can I?" I don't know about you, but when my kid seems hungry for something that isn't a new pair of shoes or lousy fried rice from the local pan-Asian restaurant, I pay attention. We looked into it, and found that it seemed like a really interesting summer camp - more geeky/academic and less sportsy/crafty although there are plenty of sports and lots of crafts. It's just that they take courses like Girls on Film and So, You Want To Be A Doctor? every morning - and they live on a college campus, in the dorms (and have to do their own laundry). And I swear, the reason that my daughter decided she wanted to go to summer school at Wellesley was because Rory Gilmore wanted to go to Harvard.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

She needed to be there on Sunday. While we could have driven up and back in one day, it occurred to me that it would be nice to break the driving into two days, and stay overnight in Boston. So we found a hotel room, checked in on Saturday afternoon, and played tourist. We went to see the USS Constitution, which was in dry-dock - a phenomenal structure built of granite in 1833 when Andrew Jackson was President. From there, we took a ferry across Boston Harbor to the aquarium, where we consorted with rays and tortoises and sharks. We migrated back to our hotel by way of Quincy Market, which was depressing as hell - so crowded and tawdry. Sunday morning, after a nice breakfast, we continued our touristing, and rode to the top of the Prudential Building so we could look at the Hancock Tower,

and the boats on the Charles,

and even Fenway Park.

It was a nice mini-vacation.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Because this started with the Gilmore Girls, I'm going to leave you with this sweet tweet video, in which Rory drops in on Michelle Obama to give her a pile of books to read on her flight to Africa for Let Girls Learn:

Because girls everywhere need to get the education they deserve.

24 June 2016

21 = Hair

Today, our marriage has reached the age of majority: twenty-one. Or it would be, if we lived in Mississippi. As we are in New York, we reached adulthood three years ago.

But never mind that, because the real question is "what is the appropriate gift?"

The thing is, the charts generally go year by year until year 15 or 20 - and then they start skipping. So 21? Who knows?

McSweeney's to the rescue. According to their list of TRADITIONAL WEDDING ANNIVERSARY GIFTS FROM MEMORY, the gift for the 21st anniversary is ... hair.

I could buy a hair mattress. A hair shirt. I went down a crazy rabbit hole looking for things made out of hair; there are surprisingly many very very strange items out there.

But the single oddest and most intriguing find was a leaf. A textile artist works with human hair to recreate leaf skeletons, ineffably lovely objects.

Happy anniversary, honey! I didn't make you a leaf out of my hair, but know that I was thinking of you!

02 June 2016

#TBT Dining With Danny

My mother loved to rip things out of the newspaper. She'd sit at the kitchen table, with a cup of coffee and a paper cutter, and go to town. If she was really exercised, she'd get out a red pen and underline egregious turns of phrase and typos. Then, she'd leave them on my bedside table for me to read the next time I visited. Eventually, after all of her children had read them, they'd get tossed - unless they were really special, in which case they got filed.

Dining With Danny was special. Dining With Danny was so special that my sister inherited a handful of clips of Dining With Danny. Well, not inherited as in bequeathed in the will, but laid claim to when we were cleaning out the house. Last summer, Pinky was moving and instead of moving Dining With Danny to a new house, she mailed the clips to me.

Here's the thing about Danny. Danny had a restaurant review column in the local newspaper, but Danny couldn't write. Danny says things like "the milky base tasted valid" (about a clam chowder).

Or the dressings were "lopped on the center of the salad".

"Fruiti de Mare was a dainty presentation of chilled shrimp, crab, lobster enticed by grated onion." Of course, the onion was doing that enticing because Danny had just had some wine out of a very special, um, wine glass? It may be that Danny had never before seen a wine glass.

Then again, Danny pays attention to the glasses; a Margarita "could have been served in a more decorative glass". But at that august establishment, the host "stood up and 'attempted to' serenade us."

I'm not sure that Danny understands the difference between posh enclaves and "upscale", but the chicken cutlet was "a large hunk of flavor".

What does it mean when Danny says that soup is an "ongoing project"? It sounds a little too much like learning on the job!

Danny tries hard to find something nice to say. Even though the coffee was very bland, "the food and ambiance is not pretentious. This is a respectable, all-purpose eating place."

Except sometimes, there's really nothing to say.

On the one hand, I kind of feel for Danny. On the other hand? These gems are too good not to share, and that my mother so carefully cut them out and marked up her favorite bits makes me wistful and delighted all at the same time.

If you want to read the full reviews, I uploaded them all as a pdf. You're welcome.